Saturday, December 23, 2006

Some new children's games for adults

This year's for Channukah I convinced my lovely wife that any Channukah gift requiring a pair of tin snips to remove it from its packaging should not be allowed into the house. As a result, I think both the kids AND the parents made out well this year.

The Channukah booty involved several new games for the whole family, all of which I highly recommend. I thought I would take a moment to review them. You know, now that you're done with your holiday shopping and have no reason whatsoever to buy these or even the cash flow if you wanted to.

Blokus can best be described as 4-player horizontal Tetris. It's a board game, with 21 Tetris-shaped plastic pieces per player. The board is a grid of 800 squares. The object of the game is to get all of your pieces on the board before you run out of places to do so. You must place a piece so that it only touches one or more corners of your other pieces. Functioning left brain required. My 6-year-old loved it, and so did I. My right-brained, Boggle-champion, non-geometrically-inclined wife wasn't overly thrilled with it at first, but it grew on her. At last, the next time she decides she wants to completely destroy in a round of Boggle I finally have an alternative with which I can whip her tush.

Batteries: none
Obnoxious noises: none
Packaging annoyance factor: very low
Likelihood of lost pieces: very high
Adult enjoyment: high
Kindergartener enjoyment: high
Preschooler enjoyment: low to medium

This one was a bit of a surprise. It's a handheld electronic game that does one thing...plays 20 questions. You think of a thing, and it guesses. It's that simple. And frighteningly accurate. Eerie, in fact. It gets the word right almost every time. Hilary is addicted. In fact, I'm thinking of getting her professional help.

Batteries: yup
Obnoxious noises: optional
Packaging annoyance factor: The usual clear plastic blisterpack that can only be opened with a hatchet.
Likelihood of lost pieces: None
Adult enjoyment: high (til boredom sets in, I'd give it a week)
Kindergartener enjoyment: high
Preschooler enjoyment: low

Cranium Cadoo
I've often seen Cranium on sale in bookstores and at the local Starbucks, but never picked it up. Cranium Cadoo is the "kid" version, but it's a very enjoyable family game. In a nutshell, the object of the game is to pick cards from a trivial Pursuit-like box, and essentially do whatever the card says. Sometimes the task is to build something out of clay, forcing your fellow players to guess what the object is and at the same time determine how weak your sculpting skills are. Sometimes you are told to go on a scavenger hunt and find two items with certain properties ("Find something blue, and something fuzzy"). Sometimes you are required to do a bit of charades, miming out a simple action like "slow motion" or "kite flying". Though this game is easy for adults, it's definitely fun in a family setting. And with a little effort and creativity, it could easy be turned into a college drinking game.

Batteries: Nope
Obnoxious noises: only your own
Packaging annoyance factor: low
Likelihood of lost pieces: medium
Adult enjoyment: high, when played with kids
Kindergartener enjoyment: high
Preschooler enjoyment: not recommended for preschoolers.

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